Following on the heels of his successful first novel, Calgary’s Rob Lennard has just come out with a new story to tantalize the province’s audiences. The Amazing Time Travel Adventures of the Iron Crow Brothers and Bree Saint Marie was just released a few months ago, but it shouldn’t take that long to make its way into the hearts of the province’s schoolchildren and others.
Certainly the author must be hoping that this one has as warm a reception as The Alberta Time Travel Adventures of Family Day Ray, Roxy and Jasper, a book that earned him both the prestigious Heritage Awareness Award and the Alberta Centennial Medal. It has also been optioned by Alberta’s Agora Films to be turned into an animated movie. Those are big shoes to fill, but Lennard knows what he’s doing.
Calling himself The History Wrangler, he delves into his extensive research to piece out the plot and flesh out the details for his stories. Family Day Ray, believe it or not, is packed with more than 250 historical facts and is recognized as source material by the Calgary Board of Education.
Lennard sticks to his guns when it comes to sticking with the way things really happened. Setting his stories up like the Magic Schoolbus is a great gimmick for getting kids interested in bona fide local and provincial history.
In this book, teenage track star Max Iron Crow uses his science teacher’s time travel machine to go back to the past to save his little brother’s life as it is threatened by an incurable blood disease. Along with Bree, a Métis girl, Max travels to the year 1899 where he attends a celebration in honour of Father Lacombe. Along the way, he meets up with guardian wolves, three great First Nations chiefs, and his own Blackfoot ancestors. Bishop Grandin shows up as well.
In his introductory notes, he points out why this kind of writing is so important:
“When I discovered that no other time-travel adventure story had been written wherein its author had deliberately interwoven fiction with historical reality — in this case, the amazing pre-confederation First Nations history of what would become the province of Alberta, the background of Treaties 6, 7, and 8, and the early men of the cloth, including the remarkable Father Lacombe — I couldn’t resist the challenge.”
It’s a great and fun read complete with illustrations including some photographs of Father Lacombe, Deerfoot and Red Crow, head chief of the Blood Tribe. It’s great to read books like this and know that you’re actually getting good information about Alberta and its formation. It’s not my habit to read juvenile literature, but once in a while a good one like this pops up. It didn’t take long to get through and it was just as engrossing as any adult fiction tale I’ve read.
Here’s another book that should make its way into the hands of Alberta students, not just those in Calgary.
The Amazing Time Travel Adventures of the Iron Crow Brothers and Bree Saint Marie
By Rob Lennard
H.T. Murgatroyd Publishing